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ADP-ribosylation factors: a family of ∼20-kDa guanine nucleotide-binding proteins that activate cholera toxin


ADP-ribosylation factors (ARFs) comprise a family of ∼20 kDa guanine nucleotide-binding proteins that were discovered as one of several cofactors required in cholera toxin-catalyzed ADP-ribosylation of G, the guanine nucleotide-binding protein responsible for stimulation of adenylyl cyclase, and was subsequently found to enhance all cholera toxin-catalyzed reactions and to directly interact with, and activate the toxin. ARF is dependent on GTP or its analogues for activity, binds GTP with high affinity in the presence of dimyristoylphosphatidylcholine/cholate and contains consensus sequences for GTP-binding and hydrolysis. Six mammalian family members have been identified which have been classified into three groups (Class I, II, and III) based on size, deduced amino acid sequence identity, phylogenetic analysis and gene structure. ARFs are ubiquitous among eukaryotes, with a deduced amino acid sequence that is highly conserved across diverse species. They have recently been shown to associate with phospholipid and Golgi membranes in a GTP-dependent manner and are involved in regulating vesicular transport.

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ADP-ribosylation factor

sARF I and sARF II:

soluble ADP-ribosylation factors purified from bovine brain


purified membrane-associated ARF


human ARF


bovine ARF


yeast ARF


bacterially-expressed recombinant ARF


Giardia ARF


Drosophila ARF

G protein:

guanine nucleotide-binding protein

Gs :

G protein responsible for stimulation of adenylyl cyclase




cholera toxin A1 subunit




sodium dodecyl sulfate


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Correspondence to Catherine F. Welsh.

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Welsh, C.F., Moss, J. & Vaughan, M. ADP-ribosylation factors: a family of ∼20-kDa guanine nucleotide-binding proteins that activate cholera toxin. Mol Cell Biochem 138, 157–166 (1994).

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Key words

  • cholera toxin
  • adenylyl cyclase
  • ADP-ribosylation factors
  • guanine nucleotide-binding (G) proteins
  • vesicular trafficking